The Necklace by Guy de Maupassant

SHE WAS ONE OF THOSE PRETTY AND CHARMING GIRLS BORN, as though fate had blundered over her, into a family of artisans. She had no marriage portion, no expectations, no means of getting known, understood, loved, and wedded by a man of wealth and distinction; and she let herself be married off to a little clerk in the Ministry of Education. Her tastes were simple because she had never been able to afford any other, but she was as unhappy as though she had married beneath her; for women have no caste or class, their beauty, grace, and charm serving them for birth or family. Their natural delicacy, their instinctive elegance, their nimbleness of wit, are their only mark of rank, and put the slum girl on a level with the highest lady in the land. She suffered endlessly, feeling herself born for every delicacy and luxury. She suffered from the poorness of her house, from its mean walls, worn chairs, and ugly curtains. All these things, of which other women of her class would not even have been aware, tormented and insulted her. The sight of the little Breton girl who came to do the work in her little house aroused heart-broken regrets and hopeless dreams in her mind. She imagined silent antechambers, heavy with Oriental tapestries, lit by torches in lofty bronze sockets, with two tall footmen in knee-breeches sleeping in large arm-chairs, overcome by the heavy warmth of the stove. She imagined vast saloons hung with antique silks, exquisite pieces of furniture supporting priceless ornaments, and small, charming, perfumed rooms, created just for little parties of intimate friends, men who were famous and

sought after, whose homage roused every other woman's envious longings. When she sat down for dinner at the round table covered with a three-daysold cloth, opposite her husband, who took the cover off the soup-tureen, exclaiming delightedly: "Aha! Scotch broth! What could be better?" she imagined delicate meals, gleaming silver, tapestries peopling the walls with folk of a past age and strange birds in faery forests; she imagined delicate food served in marvellous dishes, murmured gallantries, listened to with an inscrutable smile as one trifled with the rosy flesh of trout or wings of asparagus chicken. She had no clothes, no jewels, nothing. And these were the only things she loved; she felt that she was made for them. She had longed so eagerly to charm, to be desired, to be wildly attractive and sought after. She had a rich friend, an old school friend whom she refused to visit, because she suffered so keenly when she returned home. She would weep whole days, with grief, regret, despair, and misery. *** One evening her husband came home with an exultant air, holding a large envelope in his hand. "Here's something for you," he said. Swiftly she tore the paper and drew out a printed card on which were these words: "The Minister of Education and Madame Ramponneau request the pleasure of the company of Monsieur and Madame Loisel at the Ministry on the evening of Monday, January the 18th."

Instead of being delighted, as her-husband hoped, she flung the invitation petulantly across the table, murmuring: "What do you want me to do with this?" "Why, darling, I thought you'd be pleased. You never go out, and this is a great occasion. I had tremendous trouble to get it. Everyone wants one; it's very select, and very few go to the clerks. You'll see all the really big people there." She looked at him out of furious eyes, and said impatiently: "And what do you suppose I am to wear at such an affair?" He had not thought about it; he stammered: "Why, the dress you go to the theatre in. It looks very nice, to me...." He stopped, stupefied and utterly at a loss when he saw that his wife was beginning to cry. Two large tears ran slowly down from the corners of her eyes towards the corners of her mouth. "What's the matter with you? What's the matter with you?" he faltered. But with a violent effort she overcame her grief and replied in a calm voice, wiping her wet cheeks: "Nothing. Only I haven't a dress and so I can't go to this party. Give your invitation to some friend of yours whose wife will be turned out better than I shall." He was heart-broken. "Look here, Mathilde," he persisted. :What would be the cost of a suitable dress, which you could use on other occasions as well, something very simple?"

there's nothing so humiliating as looking poor in the middle of a lot of rich women. and Madame Loisel seemed sad. but I think I could do it on four hundred francs. to wear. . At last she replied with some hesitation: "I don't know exactly. however. For ten francs you could get two or three gorgeous roses. uneasy and anxious." he said. I would almost rather not go to the party." The day of the party drew near.She thought for several seconds." She was not convinced." she replied. But try and get a really nice dress with the money. for this was exactly the amount he had been saving for a gun. not a single stone." He grew slightly pale. Nevertheless he said: "Very well. reckoning up prices and also wondering for how large a sum she could ask without bringing upon herself an immediate refusal and an exclamation of horror from the careful-minded clerk. "I shall look absolutely no one." "I'm utterly miserable at not having any jewels. One evening her husband said to her: "What's the matter with you? You've been very odd for the last three days." . Her dress was ready. "They're very smart at this time of the year. I'll give you four hundred francs. intending to get a little shooting next summer on the plain of Nanterre with some friends who went lark-shooting there on Sundays. "No ." "Wear flowers. .

Look for yourself. my dear. brought it to Madame Loisel. just this alone?" "Yes. "Go and see Madame Forestier and ask her to lend you some jewels." Suddenly she discovered." She uttered a cry of delight. and went away with her treasure. of course. "That's true. She tried the effect of the jewels before the mirror. Madame Forestier went to her dressing-table. with hesitation. You know her quite well enough for that. she asked in anguish: "Could you lend me this. and said: "Choose. I never thought of it." Next day she went to see her friend and told her her trouble. a superb diamond necklace. I don't know what you would like best. Madame Loisel was a . The day of the party arrived. her heart began to beat covetousIy. hesitating. Her hands trembled as she lifted it. and remained in ecstasy at sight of herself. embraced her frenziedly. of exquisite workmanship. Then. took up a large box. then a Venetian cross in gold and gems. to give them up." First she saw some bracelets. then a pearl necklace. in a black satin case. unable to make up her mind to leave them. upon her high dress. She kept on asking: "Haven't you anything else?" "Yes." She flung herself on her friend's breast. She fastened it round her neck."How stupid you are!" exclaimed her husband. opened it.

shouting at the drivers whom they saw passing in the distance. so that she should not be noticed by the other women putting on their costly furs. She left about four o'clock in the morning. The Minister noticed her. When they were out in the street they could not find a cab. drunk with pleasure. they began to look for one. desperate and shivering. graceful. as though they were ashamed of their shabbiness in the daylight. in a cloud of happiness made up of this universal homage and admiration. She danced madly. "Wait a little. and asked to be introduced to her. Loisel restrained her." But she did not listen to him and rapidly descended-the staircase. in company with three other men whose wives were having a good time. in the triumph of her beauty. She was conscious of this and was anxious to hurry away. I'm going to fetch a cab. She was the prettiest woman present. inquired her name. of the completeness of a victory so dear to her feminine heart. Since midnight her husband had been dozing in a deserted little room. with no thought for anything. of the desires she had aroused. .success. in the pride of her success. ecstatically. They walked down towards the Seine. You'll catch cold in the open. He threw over her shoulders the garments he had brought for them to go home in. and quite above herself with happiness. All the men stared at her. whose poverty clashed with the beauty of the ball-dress. smiling. All the Under-Secretaries of State were eager to waltz with her. elegant. At last they found on the quay one of those old night prowling carriages which are only to be seen in Paris after dark. modest everyday clothes.

" They stared at one another. They could not find it. . You didn't notice it." "Yes." "But if you had lost it in the street. everywhere. But suddenly she uttered a cry. . in the pockets. I've no longer got Madame Forestier's necklace." . Probably we should. At last Loisel put on his clothes again. She turned towards him in the utmost distress. . . As for him. dumbfounded. and sadly they walked up to their own apartment. in the folds of the coat. he was thinking that he must be at the office at ten. "What! . I . . "Are you sure that you still had it on when you came away from the ball?" he asked. so as to see herself in all her glory before the mirror. for her.It brought them to their door in the Rue des Martyrs. I touched it in the hall at the Ministry." he said. already half undressed. "and see if I can't find it. She took off the garments in which she had wrapped her shoulders. Did you take the number of the cab?" "No. . "I'll go over all the ground we walked. we should have heard it fall. "I . . ." He started with astonishment. . It was the end. did you?" "No. The necklace was no longer round her neck! "What's the matter with you?" asked her husband. "Yes. Impossible!" They searched in the folds of her dress.

." She wrote at his dictation. who had aged five years. Loisel. Loisel came home at night." Then they went from jeweller to jeweller. without volition or power of thought. "It was not I who sold this necklace. huddled on a chair. He consulted his books." Next day they took the box which had held the necklace and went to the jewellers whose name was inside. Madame. She remained in her evening clothes. lacking strength to get into bed. I must have merely supplied the clasp. declared: "We must see about replacing the diamonds. to the newspapers. "and tell her that you've broken the clasp of her necklace and are getting it mended. She waited all day long. He had found nothing." he said. Her husband returned about seven. "You must write to your friend. both ill with remorse and anguish of mind. to offer a reward. searching for another necklace like the first. to the cab companies. He went to the police station.And he went out. That will give us time to look about us. *** By the end of a week they had lost all hope. consulting their memories. in the same state of bewilderment at this fearful catastrophe. everywhere that a ray of hope impelled him. his face lined and pale. he had discovered nothing.

open the case. It was worth forty thousand francs. From the very first she played her part heroically. They begged the jeweller not tO sell it for three days. . He mortgaged the whole remaining years of his existence. When Madame Loisel took back the necklace to Madame Forestier. at the prospect of every possible physical privation and moral torture. three louis there. This fearful debt must be paid off. as her friend had feared. And they arranged matters on the understanding that it would be taken back for thirty-four thousand francs. He intended to borrow the rest. appalled at the agonising face of the future. the latter said to her in a chilly voice: "You ought to have brought it back sooner. He gave notes of hand. If she had noticed the substitution. at the black misery about to fall upon him. and. risked his signature without even knowing it he could honour it. I might have needed it." She did not. getting a thousand from one man.In a shop at the Palais-Royal they found a string of diamonds which seemed to them exactly like the one they were looking for. if the first one were found before the end of February. what would she have thought? What would she have said? Would she not have taken her for a thief? *** Madame Loisel came to know the ghastly life of abject poverty. did business with usurers and the whole tribe of money-lenders. five louis here. Loisel possessed eighteen thousand francs left to him by his father. five hundred from another. He did borrow it. entered into ruinous agreements. They were allowed to have it for thirty-six thousand. he went to get the new necklace and put down upon the jeweller's counter thirty-six thousand francs.

when her husband was at the office. She washed the dirty linen. her hands were red. But sometimes. haggling. to the grocer. She washed the plates. and hung them out to dry on a string. a basket on her arm. of the ball at which she had been so beautiful and so much admired. Madame Loisel looked old now. They changed their flat. And this life lasted ten years. she sat down by the window and thought of that evening long ago. The servant was dismissed. She came to know the heavy work of the house. time gained. coarse women of poor households. others renewed.She would pay it. stopping on each landing to get her breath. She spoke in a shrill voice. wearing out her pink nails on the coarse pottery and the bottoms of pans. Who knows? Who knows? How strange life is. Her hair was badly done. And. she went to the fruiterer. fighting for every wretched halfpenny of her money. What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels. clad like a poor woman. how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save! . they took a garret under the roof. She had become like all the other strong. every morning she took the dustbin down into the street and carried up the water. Every month notes had to be paid off. the usurer's charges and the accumulation of superimposed interest. to the butcher. Her husband worked in the evenings at putting straight a merchant's accounts. the hateful duties of the kitchen. insulted. the shirts and dish-cloths. her skirts were awry. At the end of ten years everything was paid off. and the water slopped all over the floor when she scrubbed it. hard. everything. and often at night he did copying at twopence-halfpenny a page.

she caught sight suddenly of a woman who was taking a child out for a walk.One Sunday. ." "On my account! . Jeanne. Why not? She went up to her. How was that?" "You remember the diamond necklace you lent me for the ball at the Ministry?" "Yes. my poor Mathilde. . Madame Loisel was conscious of some emotion. . still beautiful. still young. Should she speak to her? Yes. and all on your account. I am Mathilde Loisel. "I don't know . It was Madame Forestier. certainly. . as she had gone for a walk along the Champs-Elysees to freshen herself after the labours of the week." she stammered. and was surprised at being thus familiarly addressed by a poor woman. "Oh! ." Her friend uttered a cry. . . ." . you brought it back. . . . how you have changed! ." "No . Madame . I lost it. . Well?" "Well. . . "Good morning. she would tell her all. . And now that she had paid. I've had some hard times since I saw you last. still attractive." "Yes." "How could you? Why." The other did not recognise her. . . "But . you must be making a mistake. and many sorrows .

You hadn't noticed it? They were very much alike. it's paid for at last. You think I am losing my mind? Perhaps I am. but for other reasons than those you imagine."I brought you another one just like it. 2012 "The Terror" by Guy de Maupassant You say you cannot possibly understand it. And for the last ten years we have been paying for it. . deeply moved. You realise it wasn't easy for us. we had no money. . . " The Necklace was featured as The Short Story of the Day on Tue. Well." Madame Forestier had halted. Dec 11. my dear friend. "You say you bought a diamond necklace to replace mine?" "Yes. my poor Mathilde! But mine was imitation. and will tell you what has led me to take that step. Yes. It was worth at the very most five hundred francs! ." And she smiled in proud and innocent happiness. Madame Forestier. . I am going to be married. . and I believe you. "Oh. and I'm glad indeed. . took her two hands.

the fact. some one whose reason is at work. no matter what it be. and stout. I wish to be able to awaken somebody by my side. I do not want to be alone any longer at night." you will say to me. and feel that there is some waking soul close to me. so that when I hastily light the . Lajolle is a very nice girl." She belongs. I have only seen her four or five times. She is small. "what on earth did you get married for?" I hardly like to tell you the strange and seemingly improbable reason that urged me on to this senseless act. and with no particularly striking qualities. I want to feel that there is some one close to me. but my state of mind is so wretched that you will pity me and despise me. so that I may be able to ask some sudden question. I know that there is nothing unpleasing about her. so that I may hear a human voice. and belongs to the middle classes. to that immense number of girls whom one is glad to have for one's wife. however. People say of her: "Mlle. without any apparent faults. She is a girl such as you may find by the gross. the day after to-morrow I shall ardently wish for a tall." and tomorrow they will say: "What a very nice woman Madame Raymon is. a being who can speak and say something. dark. till the moment comes when one discovers that one happens to prefer all other women to that particular woman whom one has married. is that I am afraid of being alone. if I feel inclined. I don't know how to tell you or to make you understand me. She is not rich. thin woman. "Well. touching me. of course. and that is enough for my purpose. a stupid question even. so. in a word. fair. well adapted for matrimony.I may add that I know very little of the girl who is going to become my wife to-morrow.

no matter what. as long as it were something tangible. I am frightened merely because I cannot understand my own terror. I am not afraid of ghosts. I am afraid of my own dreadful thoughts. I am afraid of the walls. by a kind of animal life. It is terrible. as far as I am concerned. At first I feel a vague uneasiness in my mind. in the cupboard. of my reason. if a man were to come into the room. I should kill him without trembling. which are animated. I feel that my fear increases. behind the door. Oh. behind the curtains.candle I may see some human face by my side--because--because --I am ashamed to confess it--because I am afraid of being alone. I am afraid of my own voice. for I believe in the total annihilation of every being that disappears from the face of this earth. and of course nothing is to be seen. and I cannot get over it. nor do I believe in the supernatural. of the furniture. You may laugh. I become agitated. which seems as if it were about to leave me. of the familiar objects. Above all. and hide under the clothes. I am afraid of I know not what. you don't understand me yet. I am not afraid of dead people. afraid of that horrible sensation of incomprehensible fear. and I know it. I look round. or under my bed. and there. although there is nothing there. If I speak. Well--yes. and so I shut myself up in my own room. and I turn round suddenly because I am afraid of what is behind me. If I walk. get into bed. it must be told: I am afraid of myself. well. . if you like. which causes a cold shiver to run all over me. I am not afraid of any danger. driven away by a mysterious and invisible agony. and yet all the time I know there is nothing anywhere. and I wish that there were something there.

but a kind of nervous impatience seemed to affect my legs. Then suddenly a cold shiver ran down my back. I should have laughed outright. a prey to one of those fits of despondency. feeling tired without any reason for it. as one often does when walking slowly. and my rooms seemed to me to be more empty than they had ever been before. I close my eyes in despair. so as to shake off our depressing thoughts. unable to work. so I got up and began to walk about again. without any apparent cause. no matter to whom. is it not. without locking it. to be like that? Formerly I felt nothing of all that. I was. I came home quite calm. and went up and down my apartment without anything disturbing my peace of mind. rolled into a ball. I was certainly never afraid of opening the door in the dark. such a stupid and terrible malady as it is. and that I ought to put it out. and I thought the damp air might have penetrated into my rooms. perhaps. Had any one told me that I should be attacked by a malady--for I can call it nothing else--of most improbable fear. rather feverish. for my hands. I went to bed slowly. so I lit the fire for the first time that . I felt that I was alone. and never got up in the middle of the night to make sure that everything was firmly closed. I asked myself what I was going to do. A fine rain was falling. What was I to do? I sat down. almost seemed to burn one another. and remain thus for an indefinite time. When my servant had left the room.cowering down. and I felt unhappy. after I had dined. remembering that my candle is alight on the table by my bedside. and yet--I dare not do it. or to talk. It is very terrible. and even without energy to read. It began last year in a very strange manner on a damp autumn evening. I walked up and down my room for some time. I was in the midst of infinite and overwhelming solitude. which I had clasped behind me. which make us feel inclined to cry.

and I found it merely closed. But soon I felt that I could not possibly remain quiet. My janitor opened the door at once. from the Madeleine as far as the Faubourg Poissoniere. so I walked to the boulevard ro try and meet some acquaintance or other there. When I go out I always double-lock the door of my room. with his back toward me. I went in." I glanced into several cafes. warming his feet. and. and the wet pavement glistened in the gaslight. which surprised me. saying to myself: "I shall not find a soul to talk to. I was not in the slightest degree frightened. I went on slowly. For a long time I wandered aimlessly up and down. had lent him his own key. that some friend or other had come to see me. and found my fire still burning so that it lighted up the room a little.year. and I thought that another lodger had probably just come in. It was wretched everywhere. while the oppressive warmth of the almost impalpable rain lay heavily over the streets and seemed to obscure the light of the lamps. to pull myself together. which was quite unusual for him. I could not find anyone. and so I got up again and determined to go out. No doubt the porter. and saw many unhappy-looking individuals sitting at the tables who did not seem even to have enough energy left to finish the refreshments they had ordered. I was very calm and very tired. and about midnight I started for home. while in the act of taking up a candle. but I supposed that some letters had been brought up for me in the course of the evening. and to find a friend to bear me company. I noticed somebody sitting in my armchair by the fire. I thought. to whom I had said I was going out. and sat down again and looked at the flames. In a moment I . very naturally.

panting with fear." and I immediately began to reflect on this phenomenon. so I put out my hand to touch him on the shoulder. then I turned round again. his right arm was hanging down and his legs were crossed. impelled by an imperious standing upright. and ready to faint. I thought: "It is a mere hallucination. nothing more. that was an incontestable fact. "Who can it be?" I asked myself. I could not see clearly. how the street door had been opened immediately. I fairly jumped with fright. they had had a vision. seemed to indicate that he was asleep. Thoughts fly quickly at such moments. so upset that I could not collect my thoughts. I had been suffering from an hallucination. the seat was empty. and that my own door was only latched and not locked. as if somebody had touched me from behind. as the room was rather dark. perhaps. and soon recovered myself. There was nobody there. and I raised myself up with a jump. so there was nothing the matter with the brain. I could see nothing of my friend but his head.remembered all the circumstances of my return. so I went up to him to rouse him. I saw him quite distinctly. which was somewhat inclined to the left of the armchair. But I am a cool man. that is all. and he had evidently gone to sleep while waiting for me. For a moment I drew back as if confronted by some terrible danger. It was only my eyes that had been deceived. and it came in contact with the back of the chair. the position of his head. the eyes were rather congested. My mind had been perfectly lucid and had acted regularly and logically. one of those visions which lead simple folk to believe in miracles. and when I stooped down to the fire in doing so I noticed that I was trembling. It was a nervous seizure of the optical apparatus. . I lit my candle.

now. and hid the chair behind my bed. then I went to bed and blew out my light. and the few glowing embers threw a faint light on the floor by the chair. when in my dream I saw all the scene which I had previously witnessed as clearly as if it were reality. I walked up and down a little. Then I doublelocked the door and felt rather reassured. but yet thought I was a great fool. I got up. I sat down again and thought over my adventure for a long time. however. and twice I saw the same thing again. My fire was nearly out. For some minutes all went well. I dined at a restaurant and afterward went to the theatre. I had been feverish. and slept peacefully till noon. till I fancied I was going mad. I woke up with a start. in fact. however. had had the nightmare. I quickly struck a match. I lay quietly on my back. as the room was now dark. but I had been mistaken. but I had not forgotten myself for more than five minutes. and hummed a tune or two.I was certainly not by any means calm. I thought that I was cured. however. But as I got near . When day broke. without venturing even to try to go to sleep again. and tried to get to sleep. and then started for home. I enjoyed myself thoroughly that evening. It was all past and over. and having lit the candle. but presently an irresistible desire seized me to look round the room. sat up in bed. where I fancied I saw the man sitting again. I know not what. Twice. and I turned over on my side. at any rate. sleep overcame me for a few moments in spite of myself. nobody could come in. there was nothing there. I had been ill.

which was partly open. it still worries me. but it has not appeared to me again. and kept turning round with a jump. There was nothing there. not afraid of his presence. I slept badly. but I was not altogether reassured. I was afraid of some fresh hallucination. and cast a frightened glance toward the fireplace. what would it matter. the very shadows in the corners disquieted me. around me. I returned home. afraid lest fear should take possession of me. I inserted my key into the lock. For more than an hour I wandered up and down the pavement. close to me. Since that time I have been afraid of being alone at night. in which I did not believe. but I was afraid of being deceived again. that was all over.the house I was once more seized by a strange feeling of uneasiness. and went into the apartment with a candle in my hand. because I am constantly thinking of it. I was not afraid of him. and was constantly disturbed by imaginary noises. feeling that I was really too foolish. I breathed so hard that I could hardly get upstairs. but did not see him. and know that it is nothing? However. I was afraid of seeing him again. And supposing it did. A-h! What a relief and what a delight! What a deliverance! I walked up and down briskly and boldly. then suddenly I had a courageous impulse and my will asserted itself. and remained standing outside my door for more than ten minutes. since I do not believe in it. I kicked open my bedroom door. no. I feel that the spectre is there. then. His right arm hanging down and his head inclined to the left like a man who was asleep--I don't want to think about it! .

in the wardrobe. if I take the candle to look under the bed and throw a light on the dark places he is there no longer. He remains invisible. it is dreadful. to stiffen my backbone. but who and what is he? I know that he does not exist except in my cowardly imagination. however. but for all that. that I shall never see him again. He is behind the doors. for he is there just because I am alone. There--enough of that! Yes. it is all very well for me to reason with myself. I know I shall not see him again. in the closed cupboard. I turn round. he is behind me. all the same. certain that I shall not see him. But he is there. but I cannot remain at home because I know he is there. If I open the door or the cupboard. and in my agony. in every dark corner. so to say. It is very stupid. But if there were two of us in the place I feel certain that he would not be there any longer. am I so persistently possessed with this idea? His feet were close to the fire! He haunts me. simply and solely because I am alone! A Piece of String by Guy de Maupassant . but I feel that he is behind me. in my fears. it is very stupid. under the bed.Why. in my thoughts. but what am I to do? I cannot help it. but that does not prevent his being there. that is all over. he will not show himself again.

" shining as if varnished. And they walked with a quicker. a throng of human beings and animals mixed together. And the clamorous. at the same time. of the rich peasant and the headgear of the peasant women rose above the surface of the assembly. two men seated side by side and a woman in the bottom of the vehicle. and their wives. by the reaping of the wheat which made the knees spread to make a firm "purchase. From each of them two feet protruded. They carried large baskets on their arms from which. in some cases. whipped its haunches with a leafy branch to hasten its progress. Some led a cow or a calf by a cord. puffed about their bony bodies. blue. walking behind the animal." by all the slow and painful labors of the country. The men were proceeding with slow steps. raised the left shoulder and swerved the figure. The horns of the cattle. the tall hats. by the weight on the plow which. the whole body bent forward at each movement of their long twisted legs. In the public square of Goderville there was a crowd. screaming voices made a continuous and savage din which sometimes . ornamented with a little design in white at the neck and wrists. deformed by their hard work.ALONG ALL THE ROADS around Goderville the peasants and their wives were coming toward the burgh because it was market day. livelier step than their husbands. Their blouses. "stiff-starched. the latter holding onto the sides to lessen the hard jolts. shrill. seemed like balloons ready to carry them off. with long nap. chickens and. in others. and their heads were enveloped in a white cloth glued to the hair and surmounted by a cap. shaking strangely. Their spare straight figures were wrapped in a scanty little shawl pinned over their flat bosoms. ducks thrust out their heads. Then a wagon passed at the jerky trot of a nag.

ever trying to find the trick in the man and the flaw in the beast. perplexed. human and animal. had taken out the poultry which lay upon the ground. Matre Hauchecome. He concealed his "find" quickly under his blouse. peculiar to the people of the field. giving forth that unpleasant odor. They had heretofore had business together on the subject of a halter. and he went toward the market. economical like a true Norman. and he bent painfully. picking a bit of string out of the dirt. went and came. watching the vender's eye. his head forward. He was soon lost in the noisy and slowly moving crowd which was busy with interminable bargainings. with terrified eyes and scarlet crests. both being good haters. bent double by his pains. the harness maker. then in his trousers' pocket. and they were on bad terms. on the threshold of his door. thought that everything useful ought to be picked up. Matre Hauchecome was seized with a sort of shame to be seen thus by his enemy. looking at him. then he pretended to be still looking on the ground for something which he did not find. not daring to decide. having placed their great baskets at their feet. hay and sweat. . tied together by the feet. He took the bit of thin cord from the ground and began to roll it carefully when he noticed Matre Malandain. and he was directing his steps toward the public square when he perceived upon the ground a little piece of string. for he suffered from rheumatism. The peasants milked. All that smacked of the stable. the dairy and the dirt heap. The women.was dominated by the robust lungs of some countryman's laugh or the long lowing of a cow tied to the wall of a house. always in fear of being cheated. Matre Hauchecome of Breaute had just arrived at Goderville.

shouted to the customer who was slowly going away: "All right. Matre Authirne. yellow with dirt. gigs. At Jourdain's the great room was full of people eating.They heard offers. carts. as the big court was full of vehicles of all kinds. his purchases and sales. stated their prices with a dry air and impassive face. dumpcarts. their mouths still full and napkins in their hands. Everyone told his affairs. . The dishes were passed and emptied. except a few indifferent persons. raising their shafts to the sky like two arms or perhaps with their shafts in the ground and their backs in the air. increased the jovialness and made everybody's mouth water. Three spits were turning on which were chickens. mended and patched. pigeons and legs of mutton. filled with bright flames. Just opposite the diners seated at the table the immense fireplace." Then lime by lime the square was deserted. The weather was favorable for the green things but not for the wheat. those who had stayed too long scattered to their shops. All the aristocracy of the plow ate there at Matre Jourdain's. tavern keeper and horse dealer. suddenly deciding on some proposed reduction. as were the jugs of yellow cider. Suddenly the drum beat in the court before the house. They discussed the crops. I'll give it to you for that. a rascal who had money. and the Angelus ringing at noon. and an appetizing odor of roast beef and gravy dripping over the nicely browned skin rose from the hearth. and ran to the door or to the windows. or perhaps. cast a lively heat on the backs of the row on the right. wagons. Everybody rose.

" The peasant. discussing the chances that Matre Houlbreque had of finding or not finding his pocketbook. even more bent than in the morning. They were finishing their coffee when a chief of the gendarmes appeared upon the threshold." Then the man went away. will you have the goodness to accompany me to the mayor's office? The mayor would like to talk to you. there will be twenty francs reward. The heavy roll of the drum and the crier's voice were again heard at a distance. seated at the other end of the table. and in general to all persons present at the market. a black leather pocketbook containing five hundred francs and some business papers. speaking his phrases irregularly: "It is hereby made known to the inhabitants of Goderville. rose and. He inquired: "Is Matre Hauchecome of Breaute here?" Matre Hauchecome." And the officer resumed: "Matre Hauchecome. that there was lost this morning on the road to Benzeville. And the meal concluded. surprised and disturbed. between nine and ten o'clock. The finder is requested to return same with all haste to the mayor's office or to Matre Fortune Houlbreque of Manneville. Then they began to talk of this event. for the first steps . replied: "Here I am.After the public crier had ceased his drumbeating he called out in a jerky voice. swallowed at a draught his tiny glass of brandy.

set out. serious man with pompous phrases. he drew out the little piece of string. "Ah. incredulous. the harness maker. me? Who says he saw me?" "Monsieur Malandain. "You will not make me believe. the pocketbook lost by Matre Houlbreque of Manneville. a stout. "you were seen this morning to pick up.after each rest were specially difficult." ." The countryman. mistook this cord for a pocketbook. shook his head. "Matre Hauchecome." said he. the clodhopper. on the road to Benzeville. you yourself. Matre Hauchecome. seated on an armchair." "I was seen. astounded. he saw me pick up this string here. he saw me." The mayor was awaiting him." "Word of honor. repeating: "Here I am. I never heard of it." "But you were seen. already terrified by this suspicion resting on him without his knowing why. M'sieu the Mayor. understood and flushed with anger. here I am. looked at the mayor. who is a man worthy of credence. that Monsieur Malandain. "Me? Me? Me pick up the pocketbook?" "Yes. But the mayor." The old man remembered." And rummaging in his pocket. He was the notary of the vicinity.

He was con. Finally the mayor. At his own request Matre Hauchecome was searched. looking a long while in the mud to see if any piece of money had fallen out. repeating: "It is nevertheless the truth of the good God. discharged him with the warning that he would consult the public prosecutor and ask for further orders. who repeated and maintained his affirmation." The mayor resumed: "After picking up the object you stood like a stilt. very much perplexed. stopping his friends. He began to tell the story of the string. lifted his hand. spat at one side to attest his honor.The peasant. He went along. "How anyone can tell--how anyone can tell--such lies to take away an honest man's reputation! How can anyone---" There was no use in his protesting. They abused each other for an hour. furious. As he left the mayor's office the old man was sun rounded and questioned with a serious or bantering curiosity in which there was no indignation. nothing was found on him. They said: . beginning endlessly his statement and his protestations. The news had spread. I repeat it on my soul and my salvation. fronted with Monsieur Malandain. M'sieu the Mayor. showing his pockets turned inside out to prove that he had nothing. No one believed him. the sacred truth. nobody believed him." The good old man choked with indignation and fear. They laughed at him.

and all along the road he spoke of his adventure. He was in triumph. This man claimed to have found the object in the road. he told it on the highway to people who were passing by. In the evening he took a turn in the village of Breaute in order to tell it to everybody. It made him ill at night."Old rascal. He started on his way with three neighbors to whom he pointed out the place where he had picked up the bit of string. but not knowing how to read. Night came. He stopped strangers to tell them about it. The news spread through the neighborhood. husbandman at Ymanville. He was calm now. "What grieved me so much was not the thing itself as the lying. a hired man in the employ of Matre Breton. becoming exasperated. and yet something disturbed him without his knowing exactly what it was. He immediately went the circuit and began to recount his story completed by the happy climax. He must depart. He only met with incredulity. hot and distressed at not being believed. Matre Hauchecome was informed of it. he had carried it to the house and given it to his employer. There is nothing so shameful as to be placed under a cloud on account of a lie. returned the pocketbook and its contents to Matre Houlbreque of Manneville. not knowing what to do and always repeating himself. People had the air of . in the wineshop to people who were drinking there and to persons coming out of church the following Sunday. get out!" And he grew angry." He talked of his adventure all day long. The next day about one o'clock in the afternoon Marius Paumelle.

All the table began to laugh. On Tuesday of the next week he went to the market at Goderville. He tried to protest. why was he called a big rascal? When he was seated at the table in Jourdain's tavern he commenced to explain "the affair. Why? He approached a farmer from Crequetot who did not let him finish and." A horse dealer from Monvilliers called to him: "Come. come. I know all about your piece of string!" Hauchecome stammered: "But since the pocketbook was found." But the other man replied: "Shut up. that's an old trick. said to his face: "You big rascal. by an accomplice. They did not seem convinced. standing at his door. . They accused him of having had the pocketbook returned by a confederate. old sharper. giving him a thump in the stomach. papa. At any rate you are mixed with it. He seemed to feel that remarks were being made behind his back. there is one that finds and there is one that reports. Malandain. He understood. Matre Hauchecome was confused.joking while they listened." Then he turned his back on him. began to laugh on seeing him pass. urged solely by the necessity he felt of discussing the case." The peasant stood choking.

The wags now made him tell about the string to amuse them. He felt it. consumed his heart over it and wore himself out with useless efforts. prolonging his history every day. as they make a soldier who has been on a campaign tell about his battles. His mind. reiterating: "A piece of string. and in the delirium of his death struggles he kept claiming his innocence. Toward the end of December he took to his bed. He was believed so much the less as his defense was more complicated and his arguing more subtile. He died in the first days of January. as his sharpness was known." . more solemn oaths which he imagined and prepared in his hours of solitude. more energetic protestations.He could not finish his dinner and went away in the midst of jeers. touched to the depth. choking with anger and confusion. His innocence to him." they said behind his back. of doing what they had accused him of and ever boasting of it as of a good turn. began to weaken. the more dejected that he was capable. a piece of string--look--here it is. He went home ashamed and indignant. his whole mind given up to the story of the string. He wasted away before their very eyes. M'sieu the Mayor. Then he began to recount the adventures again. was impossible to prove. with his Norman cunning. adding each time new reasons. in a confused way. And he was stricken to the heart by the injustice of the suspicion. "Those are lying excuses.

" A letter found on the desk of one of these "suicides without cause. we suspect financial troubles. beside his loaded revolver. X---. and." and written during his last night. it . X----. but it shows us the slow succession of the little vexations of life. were awakened by two successive shots. as we never find anything definite. Hardly a day goes by without our reading a news item like the following in some newspaper: "On Wednesday night the people living in No. "M. we imagine tragedies of love. we apply to these deaths the word "mystery. secret wounds drive these presumably happy persons to suicide? We search.was fifty-seven years of age. and had everything necessary to make him happy. still holding in one hand the revolver with which he had taken his life. what unknown suffering. The explosions seemed to come from the apartment occupied by M. enjoying a comfortable income. hidden despair. It reveals none of those great catastrophes which we always expect to find behind these acts of despair. The door was broken in and the man was found bathed in his blood.Suicides by Guy de Maupassant To Georges Legrand. 40 Rue de-----. We deem it rather interesting. the disintegration of a lonely existence. No cause can be found for his action." What terrible grief. has come into our hands. whose dreams have disappeared.

when the emptiness of everything appeared to me in a new light. I was happy! Everything pleased me: the passing women.' "On growing older. . Here it is: "It is the reason for these tragic ends. "During the last few years a strange change has been taking place within me. and I even took an interest in the cut of my clothes. When I have finished this letter I shall kill myself. Why? I shall attempt to give the reasons. after dinner. All the events of Life. but for myself. and the true reason for love has bred in me disgust even for this poetic sentiment: 'We are the eternal toys of foolish and charming illusions. But the repetition of the same sights has had the result of filling my heart with weariness and disgust. And I believed as they did. to kindle my waning courage. to the uselessness of effort. I had become partly reconciled to the awful mystery of life. be only deferred. at best. the appearance of the streets. "I was brought up by simple-minded parents who were unquestioning believers. which formerly had to me the glow of a beautiful sunset. just as one would feel were one to go every night to the same theatre. "Formerly. which are always being renewed. The true meaning of things has appeared to me in its brutal reality. The last veil has just been torn from my eyes. the place where I lived. to impress upon myself the fatal necessity of this act which can. not for those who may read these lines. "My dream lasted a long time. this evening. are now fading away. which only nervous and highstrung people can understand.

The way in which I put my key in the lock. these and other things disgust me and make me sick of living thus. The loneliness which one feels in strange places terrified me. each dwelling takes on a particular odor) each night. I felt so alone. the same habits. with time. I can tell just what they are going to say and what I am going to answer. where the same horse keeps circling around eternally. I know them so well."For the last thirty years I have been rising at the same hour. . "Everything repeats itself endlessly. always the same. at the same restaurant. I have been eating at the same hours the same dishes brought me by different waiters. Each brain is like a circus. the same joys. which I see in the little mirror. make me feel like jumping out of the window and putting an end to those monotonous events from which we can never escape. with soap on my cheeks. and my face. and. for thirty years. the same beliefs. has several times made me weak from sadness. We must circle round always. around the same ideas. so small on the earth that I quickly started on my homeward journey. which has stood for thirty years in the same place. when I shave. "Each day. the same sensations of disgust. the same pleasures. "Now I even hate to be with people whom I used to meet with pleasure. I feel an inordinate desire to cut my throat. the smell of my apartments (for. "I have tried travel. the place where I always find my matches. the first object which meets my eye when I enter the room. "But here the unchanging expression of my furniture.

"At first I was bewildered by this array of documents. and this confusion has often caused me considerable trouble. "Oh! if you cherish life. clear ideas to thinkers. "For good digestion is everything in life. then I chose one. for. never disturb the burial place of old letters! . and just then I was seized by such a terrible distress that I thought I must go mad. Perhaps I would not kill myself. I glanced around me. amorous desires to young people. Then I bethought me of putting my papers in order. and it also allows one to eat heartily (which is one of the greatest pleasures). "For a long time I have been thinking of clearing out my drawers. Every occupation struck me as being worse even than inaction. for the last thirty years. I have been throwing my letters and bills pell-mell into the same desk."The fog was terrible this evening. intending to choose among my old papers and destroy the majority of them. It enfolded the boulevard. if my digestion had been good this evening. "I therefore opened my desk. "When I sat down in the arm-chair where I have been sitting every day for thirty years. where the street lights were dimmed and looked like smoking candles. A heavier weight than usual oppressed me. Perhaps my digestion was bad. "I tried to think of what I could do to run away from myself. yellowed by age. A sick stomach induces scepticism unbelief. nightmares and the desire for death. the joy of life to everybody. I have often noticed this fact. But I feel such moral and physical laziness at the sole idea of putting anything in order that I have never had the courage to begin this tedious business. It gives the inspiration to the artist.

"And if, perchance, you should, take the contents by the handful, close your eyes that you may not read a word, so that you may not recognize some forgotten handwriting which may plunge you suddenly into a sea of memories; carry these papers to the fire; and when they are in ashes, crush them to an invisible powder, or otherwise you are lost--just as I have been lost for an hour. "The first letters which I read did not interest me greatly. They were recent, and came from living men whom I still meet quite often, and whose presence does not move me to any great extent. But all at once one envelope made me start. My name was traced on it in a large, bold handwriting; and suddenly tears came to my eyes. That letter was from my dearest friend, the companion of my youth, the confidant of my hopes; and he appeared before me so clearly, with his pleasant smile and his hand outstretched, that a cold shiver ran down my back. Yes, yes, the dead come back, for I saw him! Our memory is a more perfect world than the universe: it gives back life to those who no longer exist. "With trembling hand and dimmed eyes I reread everything that he told me, and in my poor sobbing heart I felt a wound so painful that I began to groan as a man whose bones are slowly being crushed. "Then I travelled over my whole life, just as one travels along a river. I recognized people, so long forgotten that I no longer knew their names. Their faces alone lived in me. In my mother's letters I saw again the old servants, the shape of our house and the little insignificant odds and ends which cling to our minds. "Yes, I suddenly saw again all my mother's old gowns, the different styles which she adopted and the several ways in which she dressed her hair. She haunted me especially in a silk dress, trimmed with old lace; and I

remembered something she said one day when she was wearing this dress. She said: 'Robert, my child, if you do not stand up straight you will be round-shouldered all your life.' "Then, opening another drawer, I found myself face to face with memories of tender passions: a dancing-pump, a torn handkerchief, even a garter, locks of hair and dried flowers. Then the sweet romances of my life, whose living heroines are now white-haired, plunged me into the deep melancholy of things. Oh, the young brows where blond locks curl, the caress of the hands, the glance which speaks, the hearts which beat, that smile which promises the lips, those lips which promise the embrace! And the first kissthat endless kiss which makes you close your eyes, which drowns all thought in the immeasurable joy of approaching possession! "Taking these old pledges of former love in both my hands, I covered them with furious caresses, and in my soul, torn by these memories, I saw them each again at the hour of surrender; and I suffered a torture more cruel than all the tortures invented in all the fables about hell. "One last letter remained. It was written by me and dictated fifty years ago by my writing teacher. Here it is: "'MY DEAR LITTLE MAMMA: "'I am seven years old to-day. It is the age of reason. I take advantage of it to thank you for having brought me into this world. "'Your little son, who loves you "'ROBERT.' "It is all over. I had gone back to the beginning, and suddenly I turned my glance on what remained to me of life. I saw hideous and lonely old age, and approaching infirmities, and everything over and gone. And nobody near me!

"My revolver is here, on the table. I am loading it . . . . Never reread your old letters!" And that is how many men come to kill themselves; and we search in vain to discover some great sorrow in their lives.

A Dead Woman's Secret by Guy de Maupassant

The woman had died without pain, quietly, as a woman should whose life had been blameless. Now she was resting in her bed, lying on her back, her eyes closed, her features calm, her long white hair carefully arranged as though she had done it up ten minutes before dying. The whole pale countenance of the dead woman was so collected, so calm, so resigned that one could feel what a sweet soul had lived in that body, what a quiet existence this old soul had led, how easy and pure the death of this parent had been. Kneeling beside the bed, her son, a magistrate with inflexible principles, and her daughter, Marguerite, known as Sister Eulalie, were weeping as though their hearts would break. She had, from childhood up, armed them with a strict moral code, teaching them religion, without weakness, and duty, without compromise. He, the man, had become a judge and handled the law as a weapon with which he smote the weak ones without pity. She, the girl, influenced by the virtue which had bathed her in this austere family, had become the bride of the Church through her loathing for man.

On the other side of the long body the other hand seemed still to be holding the sheet in the death grasp. "As you wish. returned. for he had made himself a strong mixture of coffee and brandy in order to combat the fatigue of the last few nights and of the wake which was beginning. the priest bowed. my poor children! I have come to help you pass these last sad hours. all three of us.They had hardly known their father. who had just come from dinner. without being told any other details. and through the open window drifted in the sweet smell of hay and of woods. arose and went out quietly. A few light taps on the door caused the two sobbing heads to look up. as we--we--used to be when we were small and our poor mo--mother----" Grief and tears stopped her." But Sister Eulalie suddenly arose. "Thank you. Once more serene. This is our last chance to see her. The nun was wildly-kissing the dead woman's hand. He was red and out of breath from his interrupted digestion. the dead woman and her children. "father. she could not continue. knowing only that he had made their mother most unhappy. but my brother and I prefer to remain alone with her. prayed. an ivory hand as white as the large crucifix lying across the bed. together with . murmuring: "She was a saint!" They remained alone. hidden in the shadow. with that assumed sadness of the priest for whom death is a bread winner. thinking of his bed. and we wish to be together. He looked sad. my children. The ticking of the clock." He kneeled. could be heard distinctly. and the priest. and the sheet had preserved the little creases as a memory of those last movements which precede eternal immobility. crossed himself. He crossed himself and approaching with his professional gesture: "Well.

just as on the sea when a calm follows a squall. those little intimate familiar details which bring back to life the one who has left. and a little motion of the hand. They saw her again happy and calm. their mother. their whole youth. intonations of the mother who was no longer to speak to them. and thus they discovered how lonely they would find themselves. convulsed. came to their minds with all the little forgotten details. those distant memories. words. Jesus!" And both of them. A rather long time passed and they arose and looked at their dead. mamma!" And his sister. his head buried in the bed clothes. smiles. gasped and choked. a silent serenity surrounded this dead woman. The crisis slowly calmed down and they began to weep quietly. the connecting link with their forefathers which they would . shaken by a storm of grief. mamma. They recalled to each other circumstances. twitching and trembling as in an epileptic fit. It was their bond with life. frantically striking her forehead against the woodwork. And the memories. Jesus. They measured the depth of their grief. still kneeling. their mamma. a divine melancholy. It was their prop. moaned: "Jesus. like beating time. mamma. No other noise could be heard over the land except the occasional croaking of the frog or the chirping of some belated insect. An infinite peace. And they loved her as they never had loved her before. their guide. to-day so torturing.the soft moonlight. yesterday so dear. seemed to be breathed out from her and to appease nature itself. Then the judge. They remembered things which she had said. which she often used when emphasizing something important. all the best part of their lives which was disappearing. cried in a voice altered by grief and deadened by the sheets and blankets: "Mamma.

resting his elbow on the bed. your eyes in mine." And suddenly the nun began to read aloud. Sister Eulalie. those epistles which smell of another century. The first one started: "My dear. they ought to be used as a shroud and she ought to be buried in it. They opened and read it." another one: "My beautiful little girl. They now became solitary. whom we never knew. I love you. My arms open. She began to read in a firm voice: "My adored one." others: "My dear child. they could no longer look back. to read over to the dead woman her whole history. your breast against mine. said suddenly: "These ought to be put in the grave with her. like making the acquaintance of her mother. but whose letters are there and of whom she so often spoke. on which no name was written. interrupting herself. The motionless body seemed happy. The nun said to her brother: "You remember how mamma used always to read her old letters. Let us." She took another package. The judge. I gasp. I love you! You have driven me mad. tied with care and arranged one beside the other. I feel your lips against mine. of our grandparents. I love you wildly. Since yesterday I have been suffering the tortures of the damned. They threw these relics on the bed and chose one of them on which the word "Father" was written. all her tender memories. moved by a wild desire to hold you . let us live her whole life through tonight beside her! It would be like a road to the cross. haunted by our memory.thenceforth miss." or: "My dear (laughter. was listening with his eyes fastened on his mother. It was one of those old-fashioned letters which one finds in old family desk drawers. in turn. they are all there in that drawer. read them. lonely beings. do you remember?" Out of the drawer they took about ten little packages of yellow paper.

again. 2013 The Adopted Son ." A Dead Woman's Secret was featured as The Short Story of the Day on Wed." the name "Henry. Then he closed the curtains of the bed. Then he crossed the room slowly. took one out and read: "I can no longer live without your caresses. The son then quickly rummaged through the package of letters. There was none. severe as when sitting on the bench. The nun. quickly picked up the letters and threw them pell-mell back into the drawer. he said slowly: "Let us now retire. Apr 24. I have kept in my mouth the taste of your kisses--" The judge had straightened himself up. He snatched the letter from her and looked for the signature. sister. My whole soul and body cries out for you. her head bent down. severing the tie that united her to son and daughter. was still standing near the bed. he looked unmoved at the dead woman. When he turned around again Sister Eulalie. Therefore this was not from him. straight as a statue. When daylight made the candles on the table turn pale the son slowly left his armchair." Standing erect. was watching her brother. "The man who adores you. He stepped forward. and without looking again at the mother upon whom he had passed sentence. wants you. her eyes dry now. The nun stopped reading." Their father's name was Rene. gazing out into the dark night. but only under the words. went to the window and stood there. waiting. tears trembling in the corners of her eyes.

who had one girl and three boys. before the wooden table. Before them was placed a bowl filled with bread. and afterward the births. The two peasants labored hard on the unproductive soil to rear their little ones. At seven o'clock in the morning. Rolleport. the other house sheltered the Vallins. was occupied by the Tuvaches. and the whole line ate until their hunger was appeased. and each family had four. Before the adjoining doors a whole troop of urchins played and tumbled about from morning till night. They all subsisted frugally on soup. The eight names danced in their heads. . varnished by fifty years of use. The two mothers could hardly distinguish their own offspring among the lot. half a cabbage and three Guy de Maupassant The two cottages stood beside each other at the foot of a hill near a little seashore resort. and as for the fathers. The children were seated. then at six o'clock in the evening. they were altogether at sea. as the gooseherds collect their charges. The first of the two cottages. according to age. they were always getting them mixed up. The mother herself fed the smallest. the men often called three names before getting the right one. The two eldest were six years old. and the youngest were about fifteen months. and when they wished to call one child. as you came up from the bathing beach. the housewives got their broods together to give them their food. the marriages. potatoes and fresh air. then at noon. the mouths of the youngest hardly reaching the level of the table. having taken place nearly simultaneously in both families. soaked in the water in which the potatoes had been boiled. who had three girls and one boy.

accustomed to these outbursts of admiration. But she returned the following week. and reappeared every day with her pockets full of dainties and pennies. which were a pain and almost a reproach to him. . made the acquaintance of the parents. Henri! How pretty they are. and seating herself on the ground. She returned again. took one of the two youngest--a Tuvache child--and lifting it up in her arms. she ran toward the children. and the father on this day sat longer over the meal. who was driving the horses. repeating: "I wish we could have this every day. said to the gentleman sitting at her side: "Oh. and drove off at a lively trot." One afternoon. and a young woman. while the husband waited patiently in the carriage. like that!" The man did not answer. took the youngster in her arms. to get away from the caresses which displeased him. gave candies to all the others. Her name was Madame Henri d'Hubieres. how I should like to have one of them--that one there--the little tiny one!" Springing down from the carriage. in the month of August. tumbling about in the dust. stuffed him with cakes. Then she got into the carriage again. look at all those children. and on his little hands. a phaeton stopped suddenly in front of the cottages. she kissed him passionately on his dirty cheeks. and played with them like a young girl. with which he fought vigorously. The young woman continued: "I must hug them! Oh.A small pot roast on Sunday was a feast for all. on his tousled hair daubed with earth.

should have children. when he comes of age. no. which shall be deposited immediately in his name. a pension of one hundred francs a month. but if he should not reward our care. Then the woman. We would keep it. They were busy chopping wood for the fire. on arriving. and continued: "We are alone. and waited expectantly. If he turns out well. Are you willing?" The peasant woman began to understand. She asked: "You want to take Charlot from us? Oh. did not answer. because I should like--I should like to take--your little boy with me--" The country people. no! That would be an abomination!" . "You want me to sell you Charlot? Oh. who now knew her well. I have come to see you. that's not the sort of thing to ask of a mother! Oh. brought forward chairs. a sum of twenty thousand francs. d'Hubieres intervened: "My wife has not made her meaning clear. If we. my husband and I. as there is every reason to expect. too bewildered to think. in a broken. Do you understand me?" The woman had arisen. we should pay you. We wish to adopt him. she entered the farmer's cottage. She recovered her breath. perchance. but he will come back to see you. trembling voice. furious. began: "My good people. They rose to their feet in surprise. he will be our heir. As we have thought also of you. we should give him. with a lawyer. indeed!" Then M. and without stopping to talk to the children. until your death.One morning. her husband alighted with her. he will share equally with them. no.

slowly eating slices of bread which they parsimoniously spread with a little rancid butter on a plate between the two. but approved of what his wife said by a continued nodding of his head. but when they learned that they were to have a hundred francs a month. consulting one another by glances. much disturbed. of his happiness. they will not do it. began to weep. in dismay. Henri. whence resounded the indignant voice of his wife. quite little. they considered the matter. of--" The peasant woman. You can go to them if you wish. more oratorical precautions. The two country people shook their heads. the voice of a child used to having all its wishes gratified." And he went back into his house. turning to her husband. Madame d'Hubieres. she stammered: "They will not do it. d'Hubieres recommenced his proposals. grave and deliberate. through her tears. with a voice full of tears. said nothing. The Vallins were at table. and she asked. cut him short: "It's all considered! It's all understood! Get out of here. M. They kept . with the tenacity of a wilful and spoiled woman: "But is the other little one not yours?" Father Tuvache answered: "No.The man." Then he made a last attempt: "But. more shrewdness. my friends. in sign of refusal. but with more insinuations. it is our neighbors'. think of the child's future. exasperated. and don't let me see you again--the idea of wanting to take away a child like that!" Madame d'Hubieres remembered that there were two children. however.

The parents went to the lawyer every month to collect their hundred and twenty francs. she gave a hundred francs extra. while her husband drew up a paper. d'Hubieres responded: "Why. certainly.silent for a long time. as she wished to carry off the child with her. Madame d'Hubieres granted it at once. because Mother Tuvache grossly insulted them. bribery. The Tuvaches. who was thinking it over. continually. beginning with to-morrow. perhaps regretting their refusal. And the young woman. The peasant asked: "This pension of twelve hundred francs. and of the money which he could give them later. They had quarrelled with their neighbors. continued: "A hundred francs a month is not enough to pay for depriving us of the child. as if he understood: . that it was horrible. silent. from their door. as a present. will it be promised before a lawyer?" M. serious. of his happiness. trembling with anguish. watched her departure. repeating from door to door that one must be unnatural to sell one's child. That child would be working in a few years. Nothing more was heard of little Jean Vallin." Madame d'Hubieres. carried off the howling brat. and. ostentatiously exclaiming." The woman. tortured. we must have a hundred and twenty francs. as one carries away a wished-for knick-knack from a shop. man?" In a weighty tone he said: "I say that it's not to be despised. radiant." Tapping her foot with impatience. hesitating. spoke of the future of their child. At last the woman asked: "What do you say to it. disgusting. Sometimes she would take her Charlot in her arms.

That was the cause of the unappeasable fury of the Tuvaches." And he entered the house of the Vallins as though at home. Their eldest went away to serve his time in the army. my child. a brilliant carriage stopped before the two cottages. The old mother was washing her aprons. white-haired lady. to the deputy. Jean. my little one! I'm not rich. mamma. the peasant woman dropped her soap into the water. in his calm tone which he never lost: "Here you are. the infirm father slumbered at the chimney-corner. He had reached twenty-one years when. frightened! In a flutter. When they had got to know one another again. one morning. Both raised their heads." while the old man. at the second house. good-morning. A young gentleman. They took him to the mayor. my child? Is it you. and the young man said: "Good-morning. The old lady said to him: "It is there. papa. and to the schoolmaster. all a-tremble. Charlot alone remained to labor with his old father. giving his hand to an aged. my child?" He took her in his arms and hugged her. to support the mother and two younger sisters." as if he had just seen him a month ago."I didn't sell you. I didn't! I didn't sell you. with a gold watchchain. back again. repeating: "Good-morning. got out. and show him. and stammered: "Is it you. said. . thanks to the pension. to the cure. the parents wished to take their boy out in the neighborhood. but I don't sell my children!" The Vallins lived comfortably. who had remained miserably poor. mamma!" They both stood up.

downcast. He continued: "No." The old woman wept over her plate." The father remained silent. . he said to the old people: "You must have been stupid to let the Vallins' boy be taken. I'll never forgive you for that!" The two old people were silent. the thought of that would be too much. standing on the threshold of his cottage. roughly: "I'd rather not have been born than be what I am. watched him pass. You deserve that I should leave you. She moaned." Then Father Tuvache. obstinately: "I wouldn't sell my child." The mother answered. half of which she spilled: "One may kill one's self to bring up children!" Then the boy said. The Vallins were celebrating the return of their child. Parents like you make the misfortune of their children. and I would make your life miserable.Charlot. in an angry tone. as she swallowed the spoonfuls of soup. because I would throw it up to you from morning till night. I reproach you for having been such fools. my heart stood still. in tears. said: "Are you going to reproach us for having kept you?" And the young man said. I'd rather look for a living somewhere else. at supper. A sound of voices came in at the door. In the evening." He opened the door. brutally: "Yes. When I saw the other. I said to myself: 'See what I should have been now!'" He got up: "See here. I feel that I would do better not to stay here. The son continued: "It is unfortunate to be sacrificed like that.

happy evenings. insipidly fair girl. her light. simple. quiet and long-enduring happiness. Simon Radevin. He married. Then he married.The Adopted Son was featured as The Short Story of the Day on Mon. quiet. vacant eyes. in the arms of a . we had lived. who was exactly like a hundred thousand marriageable dolls. trembled with the same sensations. travelled. thought and dreamed together. understood the same authors. with her weak hands. For years we had scarcely been separated. and very often laughed at the same individuals. 2012 A Family by Guy de Maupassant I was to see my old friend. Dec 17. a little girl from the provinces. of whom I had lost sight for fifteen years. have picked up that intelligent. to whom one tells one's secret love affairs. and her clear. who had come to Paris in search of a husband. silly voice. clever young fellow? Can any one understand these things? No doubt he had hoped for happiness. How in the world could that little thin. had liked the same things. with whom one passes long. ingenious. delicate thoughts born of that sympathy that gives a sense of repose. whom we understood completely by merely exchanging a glance. At one time he was my most intimate friend. the friend who knows one's thoughts. quite suddenly. had admired the same books. and who seems to draw out those rare.

came . He had not dreamed of the fact that an active. he becomes so brutalized that he understands nothing whatever. but I no longer saw the same expression in them. but I had not recognized him. in the dress of a boy from a Lycee. he had seen all that in the transparent looks of that schoolgirl with light hair. Suddenly he said: "Here are my two eldest children. tender and faithful woman. a good table and good nights! Eating and sleeping. who was almost a woman. full of happiness and friendship." A girl of fourteen. and a boy of thirteen. a very stout man with red cheeks and a big stomach rushed up to me with open arms. and as I got out of the carriage. and I said to myself: "If the expression be the reflection of the mind. exclaiming: "George!" I embraced him. intelligent expression which shows as much as words the brightness of the intellect. or in a state of mental torpor induced by provincial life? A man may change greatly in the course of fifteen years! The train stopped at a small station. witty. and then I said. a stout. that is my existence!" I looked at him closely. trying to discover in that broad face the features I held so dear. lighthearted and enthusiastic. What would he be like when I met him again? Still lively. His eyes alone had not changed. those thoughts which I knew so well. in astonishment: "By Jove! You have not grown thin!" And he replied with a laugh: "What did you expect? Good living. indeed. living and vibrating man grows weary of everything as soon as he understands the stupid reality." Yet his eyes were bright. unless.good. the thoughts in that head are not what they used to be formerly. but they had not that clear.

insipid girl I had seen in church fifteen years previously. and I said in a low voice: "Are they yours?" "Of course they are. which tried to look like a chateau. and Simon returned his salute and told me the man's name. A lady appeared on the steps. standing at his door.forward in a hesitating and awkward manner. self-satisfied. and I felt profound pity. In short. I got into a carriage which he drove himself. commonplace mother. almost triumphant manner. "It is charming." He said this in a proud. sleepy. mingled with a feeling of vague contempt. dressed for company. and the carriage turned into a garden that was an imitation of a park. . "How many have you?" "Five! There are three more at home. without intellect. she was a mother. but a stout lady in curls and flounces. We were soon out of the town. so that I might compliment him on it. no doubt to show me that he knew all the inhabitants personally. for this vainglorious and simple reproducer of his species. that dream of all those who bury themselves in the provinces. "That is my den." he replied. and the thought struck me that he was thinking of becoming a candidate for the Chamber of Deputies. took off his hat. and with company phrases all ready prepared. laughing. gloomy town where nothing was moving in the streets except a few dogs and two or three maidservants." said Simon. a stout. Here and there a shopkeeper. without any of those things that go to make a woman. and stopped in front of a turreted house. a human breeding machine which procreates without any other preoccupation but her children and her cook-book. She was no longer the light-haired. one of those ladies of uncertain age. a dull." I replied. and we set off through the town.

and I went downstairs. papa. My windows looked out across a dreary. He looks at all the sweets as if they were so many girls. ranged according to their height. I turned round and saw that all the children were following me behind their father. Madame Radevin came forward and said: "This is my grandfather. and I said: "Ah! ah! so there are the others?" Simon. he is eighty-seven.She welcomed me. to do me honor. I went in. an old. and we passed into the dining-room." The door of the drawing-room was open. no doubt. Sophie and Gontran. introduced them: "Jean. I saw something trembling." And then she shouted into the shaking old man's ears: "This is a friend of Simon's. interminable plain. radiant with pleasure. seemed set out for review. you will see presently. and I went into the hall. A . you have no idea what he would eat if he were allowed to do as he pleased." The old gentleman tried to say "good-day" to me. and he said with a laugh: "So! You have made grandpapa's acquaintance. You never saw anything so funny. oua. a man. But he is so greedy that he almost kills himself at every meal. He is a treasure. an ocean of grass." and waved his hand." Simon had just come in. monsieur. monsieur. and I took a seat saying: "You are very kind. A bell rang. and he muttered: "Oua. he is the delight of the children. and in the depths of an easy-chair. where three children. like firemen before a mayor. paralyzed man. to change my dress for dinner. that old man. Madame Radevin took my arm in a ceremonious manner. a striking and melancholy picture of the life which they must be leading in that house. you will see. oua." I was then shown to my room. of wheat and of oats. But you will see. it was for dinner. without a clump of trees or any rising ground. and hearing a great clatter behind me on the stairs.

showing that he had understood and was very pleased. so as not to swallow the soup. and all the children understanding that I was going to be indulged with the sight of their greedy grandfather. The children writhed with laughter at the spectacle. and refused to eat it." he said.footman wheeled in the old man in his armchair. his trembling clutches at them. while the old man blew so energetically. and the footman forced the spoon into his mouth. "Just look!" Simon whispered. They put them almost within his reach. the piteous appeal of his whole nature. making a speaking trumpet of his hands. He devoured the dishes on the table with his eyes. began to laugh. and he trembled more violently. while their mother merely smiled and shrugged her shoulders. of his mouth and of his nose as he smelt them. from head to foot. while uttering inarticulate grunts. that it was scattered like a spray all over the table and over his neighbors. and he slobbered on his table napkin with eagerness. but he was obliged to do it for the good of his health. said: "Is not the old man comical?" During the whole meal they were taken up solely with him. of his eyes. and Simon. Simon rubbed his hands: "You will be amused. shouted at the old man: "This evening there is sweet creamed rice!" The wrinkled face of the grandfather brightened. and tried to seize them and pull them over to him with his trembling hands. The dinner began. And the whole family was highly amused at this horrible and grotesque scene. who was also amused. as he turned his shaking head with difficulty from one dish to the other. . He gave a greedy and curious look at the dessert. while their father. to see his useless efforts. The old man did not like the soup.

He had one single wish left. ethics! Oh." And they pretended not to give him any. Then he began to cry. he made a comical noise in his throat. he began to stamp his feet. give him a little more rice!" But Simon replied: "Oh! no. inert and trembling wreck that he was? They were taking care of his life. Oh. and he ate with feverish gluttony. His life? How many days? Ten. so as to get more." I held my tongue. so they said. and interposed on his behalf: "Come. fifty. why not grant him that last solace until he died? . and a movement with his neck as ducks do when they swallow too large a morsel. they gave him his helping. one sole pleasure. twenty. he cried and trembled more violently than ever. and Gontran called out to him: "You have eaten too much already. and thought over those words. if he were to eat too much. and as he ate the first mouthful.Then they put a tiny morsel on his plate. nothing whatever. however. or a hundred? Why? For his own sake? Or to preserve for some time longer the spectacle of his impotent greediness in the family. wisdom! At his age! So they deprived him of his only remaining pleasure out of regard for his health! His health! What would he do with it. I was seized with pity for this saddening and ridiculous Tantalus. and when the sweetened rice was brought in. my dear fellow. There was nothing left for him to do in this life. At last. logic! Oh. he nearly had a fit. while all the children laughed. in order to get something more as soon as possible. it would harm him. you can have no more. and groaned with greediness. a very small piece. at his age. and when he had swallowed it.

Then the old Marquis de la Tour-Samuel. rose and came forward to lean on the mantelpiece. Unexpected sounds chill me to . somewhere in the distance. and each of the guests had a story to tell.--do you understand? "Yes. It was at the close of a friendly evening in a very old mansion in the Rue de Grenelle. in such a way that ever since a constant dread has remained in my soul. and yet there is not a month when I do not see it again in my dreams. And I thought of my poor friend's five children. Not a sound could be heard outside but the beautiful warbling of a bird in a tree. sad. eighty-two years of age. A Ghost by Guy de Maupassant We were speaking of sequestration. From that day I have borne a mark. which he assured us was true. No doubt the bird was singing in a low voice during the night. have witnessed a strange thing--so strange that it has been the nightmare of my life. for ten minutes I was a prey to terror. I was low-spirited and sad. "I. snoring by the side of his ugly wife. alluding to a recent lawsuit. and pictured him to myself. I went up to my room and to bed. sad! and I sat at my window. who was asleep on her eggs.After we had played cards for a long time. It happened fifty-six years ago. also. He told the following story in his slightly quavering voice. a stamp of fear. to lull his mate.

our shameful secrets. I kept it in that inmost part. But before actual danger I have never turned back. I am afraid at night. He had fallen madly in love with a young girl and married her in a kind of dreamlike ecstasy.the heart. in July. looked at me. filled me with such a deep. He understood my amazement and told me the story of his life. "No! I would not have owned such a thing before reaching my present age. "It was a friend of my younger days. The stranger saw my impulse. though. and I will prove it to you. Yet I was not mad. that corner where we conceal our sad. _mesdames_. His hair was white. But now I may tell everything. "A terrible event had broken him down. objects which I can ill distinguish in the evening shadows make me long to flee. I instinctively went more slowly. Imagine what you will. One may fear imaginary dangers at eightytwo years old. all the weaknesses of our life which cannot be confessed. He seemed to have become half a century older in the five years since I had seen him. "That affair so upset my mind. mysterious unrest that I never could tell it. "One day. "I will tell you that strange happening just as it took place. After a year of . though I could not place him with certainty. ready to pause. with no attempt to explain it. I came across a man I believed I recognized. Here are the simple facts: "It was in 1827. of whom I had been very fond. and he stooped in his walk. as I was strolling on the quay. and fell into my arms. I was quartered with my regiment in Rouen. Unless I went mad for one short hour it must be explainable. as if he were exhausted.

"'As I thus came across you again. his home not being more than twenty-five miles from Rouen. she had died suddenly of heart disease.' . "'Come to breakfast with me to-morrow.unalloyed bliss and unexhausted passion. I could go there in an hour on horseback. He added: "'I need not ask you not to glance at them. no doubt killed by love itself. He asked me to excuse him. They are in the writing-desk of my room. He remained there. and we'll talk the matter over. as if some mysterious struggle were taking place in his soul. yet he did not utter more than twenty words. I want absolute silence. We breakfasted alone together. "At ten o'clock the next day I was with him. The thought that I was going to visit the room where his happiness lay shattered. which I locked carefully myself before leaving. he said. as the errand must be kept private. and the key to the writing-desk. It would mean but a pleasant excursion for me. who will let you in. I want you to go to my chteau and get some papers I urgently need. he seemed perturbed. "At last he explained exactly what I was to do. I shall also give you a note for the gardener. and had come to live in his hotel at Rouen.' "I promised to render him that slight service. I was to take two packages of letters and some papers. Indeed. so wretched that he constantly thought of suicide. "'I shall give you the key of the room. solitary and desperate. locked in the first drawer at the right of the desk of which I had the key. of _our_ room. It was very simple. 'I shall ask a great favor of you. grief slowly mining him. upset him. "He had left the country on the very day of her funeral.' he said. I cannot send a servant or a lawyer. worried.

"At the noise I made kicking a shutter. I was so amazed and so annoyed that I almost turned back without fulfilling my mission. held. Then I thought that I should thus display over-sensitiveness and bad taste. I dismounted from my horse and gave him the letter. He read it once or twice. wide-open and rotten. and I set my horse to walking. The gate. and I rushed through the meadows. I suffer so much!' "And tears came to his eyes. looked at me with suspicion. Branches of the trees softly caressed my face. "The manor looked as though it had been deserted the last twenty years. "Then I entered the forest. full of the joy of life. you could not tell the flower-beds from the lawn. He stammered: "'Forgive me. and noted with surprise that it was sealed. and told him so. My friend might have sealed it unconsciously. rather sharply. "The day was radiant. "As I neared the house I took out the letter for the gardener. worried as he was. such as fills you without reason. with a tumultuous happiness almost indefinable. turned it over. and asked: "'Well. listening to the song of the larks. and the rhythmical beat of my sword on my riding-boots. a kind of magical strength."I was almost hurt by his words. one wondered how. an old man came out from a sidedoor and was apparently amazed to see me there. what do you want?' . and now and then I would catch a leaf between my teeth and bite it with avidity. "I left about one o'clock to accomplish my errand. Grass filled the paths.

If you will wait five minutes. then crossed two small rooms occupied by the man and his wife.' "'But--still--monsieur----' "Then I lost my temper. as I have the key!' "He no longer knew what to say. From there I stepped into a large hall."I answered sharply: "'You must know it as you have read your master's orders. I will show you the way. . "'Now be quiet! Else you'll be sorry!' "I roughly pushed him aside and went into the house. He said: "'So--you are going in--in his room?' "I was getting impatient. "I first went through the kitchen. monsieur. by chance?' "He stammered: "'No--monsieur--only--it has not been opened since--since the death.' "'Show me the stairs and leave me alone. are you joking? You can't go in that room. I can find it without your help. I want to get in the house. I will go in to see whether----' "I interrupted angrily: "'See here. I went up the stairs. and I recognized the door my friend had described to me.' "He appeared overwhelmed. "'_Parbleu!_ Do you intend to question me. "'Then.

"I opened it with ease and went in. As those fruitless attempts irritated me. I had just discovered the second package I needed. sent a disagreeable little shiver over my skin. "I sat down in an arm-chair. folded back the top. that I would not turn round. or rather felt a rustle behind me. but did not succeed. It was full to the edge. "I was straining my eyes to decipher the inscriptions. another movement. I noticed that a door. close to my . and I started looking for them. But a minute later. "I first went to the window and opened it to get some light. when I thought I heard. thinking a draft had lifted some curtain. "I even tried to break them with my sword. of dead rooms. It was so ridiculous to be moved thus even so slightly. but the hinges of the outside shutters were so rusted that I could not loosen them. and as my eyes were by now adjusted to the dim light. and was on the point of reaching for the third. being ashamed. probably that of a closet. I needed but three packages. had remained ajar. Then gradually my eyes grew accustomed to the gloom. "The chairs seemed all in confusion. "The room was so dark that at first I could not distinguish anything. I paused. a bed without sheets having still its mattresses and pillows. and I saw rather clearly a great room in disorder. I took no notice. and opened the drawer. arrested by that moldy and stale odor peculiar to deserted and condemned rooms. one of which bore the deep print of an elbow or a head. when a great and sorrowful sigh. which I knew how to distinguish. as if someone had just been resting on it. I gave up hope of getting more light and went toward the writingdesk. almost indistinct.

I suffered more in a few minutes. I could not say that I regained my self-control. and for her. monsieur!' "I tried to answer. but the kind of pride I have in me. was facing me. than I have suffered in all the rest of my life! "If she had not spoken. almost in spite of myself. A vague sound came from my throat. made me give a mad leap two yards away. or phantom. I realized this later. for at the time of the apparition. "A tall woman.shoulder. standing behind the chair in which I had sat a second before. and your innermost parts seem collapsing. she spoke in a soft and plaintive voice which set my nerves vibrating. In my spring I had turned round. I could think of nothing. your whole body becomes limp as a sponge. dressed in white. and yet I broke down before the hideous fear of the dead. I should have fled like a coward. you can be of great help to me. I was afraid. No. "I do not believe in ghosts. a pose for myself. "She continued: . your heart seems to stop. whatever she was. as well as a military pride. "Such a shudder ran through me that I almost fell back! Oh. and surely had I not felt that. in the irresistible anguish of supernatural dread. I was past knowing what I did. for her. and I suffered. I might have died. but I was unable to utter one word. oh. an honorable countenance. my hand on the hilt of my sword. I was making a pose. "She said: "'Oh. helped me to maintain. woman. But she did speak. no one who has not felt them can understand those gruesome and ridiculous terrors! The soul melts.

I bound and unbound it. accept that comb. "Left alone. "Suddenly she said. I always suffer. shivering. "A stream of light poured in. it seemed to me. She looked at me. and fled through the door which I had noticed was half opened. I handled. that hair of ice. She sighed. I found it locked and immovable. oh. I know not how. Then I recovered myself. "'Will you?' "I nodded my head. touching the floor. I suffer. very black. . Look at my head-how I suffer! And my hair--how it hurts!' "Her loose hair. which left on my skin a ghastly impression of cold. comb my hair! That will cure me. hung over the back of the chair. "Why did I do it? Why did I. I suffer!' "And she sat down gently in my chair. I suffer terribly. "That feeling still clings about my fingers. and I shiver when I recall it. I rushed to the door through which that being had gone. cure me. as if I had handled serpents? I do not know. bent her head. I had for a few seconds the hazy feeling one feels in waking up from a nightmare. being still paralyzed. "I combed her. I plaited it as one plaits a horse's mane. very long. seemed happy. 'Thank you!' tore the comb from my hands."'Will you? You can save me. I ran to the window and broke the shutters by my furious assault. "Then she handed me a woman's comb of tortoise-shell. and why did I take between my hands her long hair. and murmured: "'Comb my hair! Oh.

I mounted in one leap and left at a full gallop. bent on telling him the truth. I crossed the room running. He had gone out the evening before and had not come back. to go and see my friend on that day. Besides. I had had a sunstroke. I flew to my room and locked myself in to think. or something. "Then for an hour I asked myself whether I had not been the victim of an hallucination. . when I came near to the window. long woman's hairs which had entangled themselves around the buttons! "I took them off one by one and threw them out of the window with trembling fingers. early in the morning. "I then called my orderly. an illusion of my senses. the true panic of battle. I quickly grasped the three packages of letters from the open desk. He seemed distressed. to which the supernatural owes its strength. "I went to see him the next day. He inquired after me and was told that I was not well. I felt too perturbed. He gave a receipt to the soldier. My eyes by chance looked down. Certainly I must have had one of those nervous shocks. a panic. one of those brain disorders such as give rise to miracles. I found myself outside. too moved. "I had his letters delivered to him. Having thrown the reins to my orderly. I don't know how. "I didn't stop till I reached Rouen and drew up in front of my house."Then a fever of flight seized on me. My tunic was covered with hairs. I needed to think over what I should tell him. "And I had almost concluded that it was a vision. and seeing my horse close by. I took the steps of the stairway four at a time.

Nicholas Toussaint. and so the search went no further. but he had not been seen. At the age of fifteen both his legs had been crushed by a carriage on the Varville highway. supported by crutches which forced his shoulders up to his ears. but no one could find any trace of his passing or of his retreat. He did not come back. "A careful search was made in the deserted manor. picked up out of a ditch by the priest of Les Billettes on the eve of All Saints' Day and baptized. "The inquest gave no result. His head looked as if it were squeezed in between two mountains. "There was no sign that a woman had been concealed there. A foundling. "And in fifty-six years I have learned nothing more. They searched for him everywhere. utterly without education. No suspicious clue was discovered. I waited a week. reared by charity. crippled in consequence of having drunk several glasses of brandy given him by the baker (such a funny . despite his present misery and infirmities. I never found out the truth. for that reason. dragging himself along the roads and through the farmyards. I notified the police. From that time forth he begged." The Beggar by Guy de Maupassant He had seen better days."I returned the same day.

But she was dead now. But he could not make up his mind to go elsewhere. insults. At one time the Baroness d'Avary allowed him to sleep in a kind of recess spread with straw. but slunk away. possessed with a vague dread of the unknown--the dread of a poor wretch who fears confusedly a thousand things--new faces. tired of constantly meeting him in their fields or along their lanes. He did not ask himself the question. because he knew no place on earth but this particular corner of the country. Moreover. and if he was in great need he was sure of getting a glass of cider and a crust of bread in the kitchen. day after day for forty years. And when the peasants. . dragging his deformed and tattered person from door to door on his wooden crutches. Everybody had grown tired of seeing him. In the villages people gave him scarcely anything--he was too well known. close to the poultry yard in the farm adjoining the chateau. taunts. exclaimed: "Why don't you go to other villages instead of always limping about here?" he did not answer. the old lady often threw him a few pennies from her window. He had limited his begging operations and would not for worlds have passed his accustomed bounds. these three or four villages where he had spent the whole of his miserable existence. He did not even know whether the world extended for any distance beyond the trees which had always bounded his vision. taking refuge in the bushes or behind heaps of stones when he saw them coming.story!) and a vagabond all his life afterward--the only thing he knew how to do was to hold out his hand for alms. These last he always instinctively avoided. the suspicious glances of people who do not know him and the policemen walking in couples on the roads.

No one gave him anything now. no roof for his head. Women shouted to him from their doorsteps when they saw him coming: . his tattered vestments blending in hue with the earth on which he cowered. In summer he slept out of doors and in winter he showed remarkable skill in slipping unperceived into barns and stables. They nicknamed him "Bell. fell to the ground like a limp rag. Every one's patience was exhausted. He had no refuge. 'With uniforms gleaming in the sun.When he perceived them in the distance. he was suddenly possessed with unwonted agility--the agility of a wild animal seeking its lair. no shelter of any kind. made himself as small as possible and crouched like a bare under cover. He always decamped before his presence could be discovered. where he sometimes remained for four or five days at a time. provided he had collected a sufficient store of food beforehand. He knew all the holes through which one could creep into farm buildings. For two days he had eaten nothing. yet knew no one." because he hung between his two crutches like a church bell between its supports. but the instinct to avoid them was in his blood. and the handling of his crutches having made his arms surprisingly muscular he often hauled himself up through sheer strength of wrist into hay-lofts. He was in the midst of men. He lived like the beasts of the field. loved no one. He had never had any trouble with the police. He seemed to have inherited it from the parents he had never known. exciting in the breasts of the peasants only a sort of careless contempt and smoldering hostility. He threw aside his crutches.

Varville and Les Billettes without getting a single copper or so much as a dry crust. Hunger was gnawing his vitals. It was December and a cold wind blew over the fields and whistled through the bare branches of the trees. and in his confused. slow-working mind he had only one idea-to eat-but how this was to be accomplished he did not know. but he started on his way. propping himself on the one distorted leg which remained to him. Then at last the sight of the trees of the village inspired him with new energy. and of whom he asked alms. you good-for-nothing vagabond! Why. The women declared to one another as they stood at their doors: "We can't feed that lazy brute all the year round!" And yet the "lazy brute" needed food every day."Be off with you. the clouds careered madly across the black. replied: "So it's you again. His stomach and his pocket were equally empty. The first peasant he met. is it. you old scamp? Shall I never be rid of you?" . Now and then he sat down beside a ditch for a few moments' rest. where he was received in the same fashion. I gave you a piece of bread only three days ago! And he turned on his crutches to the next house. He had exhausted Saint-Hilaire. His only hope was in Tournolles. and he felt so weary that he could hardly drag himself another yard. but to reach this place he would have to walk five miles along the highroad. raising one crutch after the other with a painful effort. The cripple dragged himself slowly along. threatening sky. For three hours he continued his painful journey.

bleak days. The others . without the least idea whence it was to arrive. toiling through the muddy land. flapping its wings. Letting his crutches slip to the ground. He did not reflect that he was going to commit a theft. He awaited in the corner of the farmyard in the biting December wind.And "Bell" went on his way. He awaited he knew not what. so exhausted that he could hardly raise his crutches from the ground. When he had visited all the houses he knew. He took up a stone which lay within reach. At every door he got nothing but hard words. He met with the same reception everywhere. sure search for nutriment. "Bell" watched them at first without thinking of anything. killed at the first shot the fowl nearest to him. being of skillful aim. Then he visited the neighboring farms. Then a thought occurred rather to his stomach than to his mind--the thought that one of those fowls would be good to eat if it were cooked over a fire of dead wood. but hardly intelligent enough to realize to the full his unutterable misery. A number of black hens ran hither and thither. and hands do not open either to give money or food. seeking their food in the earth which supports all living things. It was one of those cold. when the heart is frozen and the temper irritable. "Bell" sank down in the corner of a ditch running across Chiquet's farmyard. He made the round of the whole village. The bird fell on its side. tortured by hunger. but received not a halfpenny for his pains. Ever now and then they snapped up in their beaks a grain of corn or a tiny insect. he remained motionless. and. then they continued their slow. possessed with that vague hope which persists in the human heart in spite of everything. some mysterious aid from Heaven or from men.

Evening came--then night--then dawn. while they went to fetch the police. pulled him up by main force and set him between the crutches. Then when they were tired of beating him they carried him off and shut him up in the woodshed. "Bell. And still he had not eaten. for Farmer Chiquet asserted that he had been attacked by him and had had great. lay on the floor. The police. the fear of the game in presence of the sportsman.fled wildly hither and thither. and "Bell. The farm hands came up also and joined their master in cuffing the lame beggar. They opened the door of the woodshed with the utmost precaution. Fear seized him--his native fear of a uniform." picking up his crutches. About midday the police arrived. He did his best to raise himself on his crutches. Just as he reached the little black body with its crimsoned head he received a violent blow in his back which made him let go his hold of his crutches and sent him flying ten paces distant. fearing resistance on the beggar's part. . limped across to where his victim lay. get up!" But "Bell" could not move. And Farmer Chiquet. the fear of a mouse for a cat-and by the exercise of almost superhuman effort he succeeded in remaining upright. but without success. difficulty in defending himself." half dead. thinking his weakness feigned. The sergeant cried: "Come. bleeding and perishing with hunger. beside himself with rage. cuffed and kicked the marauder with all the fury of a plundered peasant as "Bell" lay defenceless before him.

" Toward evening he reached the country town. and he was left alone until the following day. He said not a word. He was taken at last! Good riddance! He went off between his two guards. He did not realize in the least what he was there for or what was to become of him. having nothing to say because he understood nothing. Besides. He mustered sufficient energy--the energy of despair--to drag himself along until the evening. People whom he met on the road stopped to watch him go by and peasants muttered: "It's some thief or other. and his thoughts were too indeterminate to be put into words. It did not occur to the police that he might need food. Such an astonishing thing! The Blind Man by Guy de Maupassant . All the terrible and unexpected events of the last two days. too frightened to understand. too dazed to know what was happening to him. He walked. But when in the early morning they came to examine him he was found dead on the floor. The women shook their fists at him the men scoffed at and insulted him. He was shut up in the town jail."Forward!" said the sergeant. He had never been so far before. All the inmates of the farm watched his departure. all these unfamiliar faces and houses struck dismay into his heart. he had spoken to no one for so many years past that he had almost lost the use of his tongue.

not understanding what is taking place around them. Dependent on a sister of his. we feel a longing to embrace the sun. a clown. The blind. he was more or less taken care of. getting just enough to save him from starving. he was helped grudgingly to soup. . When. if the child says: "It was a very fine day!" the other answers: "I could notice that it was fine. they are returning home on the arm of a young brother or a little sister. to sing. impassive in their eternal darkness. and. remain as calm as ever in the midst of this fresh gaiety. to run. an atrocious life of misery commenced for him. but as soon as the old people were gone. they continually check their dogs as they attempt to play. He was a peasant. the fields are green. the son of a Norman farmer. everybody in the farmhouse treated him as a beggar who is eating the bread of strangers. and although his brother-in-law had taken possession of his portion of the inheritance. As long as his father and mother lived. he suffered little save from his horrible infirmity." I knew one of these men whose life was one of the most cruel martyrdoms that could possibly be conceived. the houses all white. And then there springs up in our hearts a desire to dance. as they sit in the doorways. he was called a drone. At every meal the very food he swallowed was made a subject of reproach against him.How is it that the sunlight gives us such joy? Why does this radiance when it falls on the earth fill us with the joy of living? The whole sky is blue. and our enchanted eyes drink in those bright colors which bring delight to our souls. at the close of the day. Loulou wouldn't keep quiet. a happy lightness of thought. a sort of enlarged tenderness.

Had he any intellect. no movement. only his eyelids. and. any consciousness of his own existence? Nobody cared to inquire. when he was beginning to eat his soup. some cat or dog.His face was very pale and his two big white eyes looked like wafers. It is easy to imagine all the cruel practical jokes inspired by his blindness. Moreover. a prey to the inborn ferocity. He made no gesture. Sometimes they placed before his plate. And. For some years things went on in this fashion. so reserved that one could not tell whether he felt them. and. He remained unmoved at all the insults hurled at him. as poultry do. commenced eating noiselessly. when they lapped the food . The peasants from the nearest houses came to this entertainment. they now converted his meals into hours of pleasure for the neighbors and of punishment for the helpless creature himself. lapping up the soup daintily. The animal instinctively perceived the man's infirmity. he had never known any tenderness. As soon as he finished his soup he went and sat outside the door in summer and in winter beside the fireside. and he became a laughingstock. But his incapacity for work as well as his impassiveness eventually exasperated his relatives. and every day the kitchen of the farmhouse was full of people. his mother having always treated him unkindly and caring very little for him. and the peasants would be glad to kill the infirm of their species. to the savage gaiety of the brutes who surrounded him. for in country places useless persons are considered a nuisance. fell down sometimes over his white. and did not stir again all the evening. softly approaching. any thinking faculty. quivering from some nervous affection. in order to have some fun in return for feeding him. a sort of butt for merriment. it was talked about from door to door. sightless orbs.

. Then came a new pleasure--the pleasure of smacking his face. angry at having to support him always. leaves or even filth. nudge each other and stamp their feet on the floor. if you please!" But the peasant is not lavish. laughing at his futile efforts to ward off or return the blows. would continue eating with his right hand. cuffed him incessantly. they would prudently scamper away to avoid the blow of the spoon directed at random by the blind man! Then the spectators ranged along the wall would burst out laughing. stammering: "Charity. rousing the poor fellow's attention. while stretching out his left to protect his plate. without ever uttering a word. bits of wood. At last he was forced to beg. And he. and as soon as he heard the sound of footsteps or the rolling of a vehicle. which he was unable to distinguish. He did not know where to hide himself and remained with his arms always held out to guard against people coming too close to him. and for whole weeks he did not bring back a sou. the servant girls and even every passing vagabond were every moment giving him cuffs. he reached out his hat. And the plough-men. struck him. Then he became the victim of furious. And this is how he died. which caused his eyelashes to twitch spasmodically. After this they got tired even of these practical jokes. He was placed somewhere on the high-road on market-days. Another time they made him chew corks. pitiless hatred. and the brother.inlaw.rather noisily.

Never fear! he's not lost. one Sunday. his sole object being to find some house where he could take shelter. But. Now. so that his body. His brother-in-law led him one morning a great distance along the high road in order that he might solicit alms. feeling that he was dying. After long hours of waiting. he sat down in the middle of an open field. disappeared under the incessant accumulation of their rapidly thickening mass. the farmers noticed a great flight of crows. He did not get up again. the descending snow made a numbness steal over him. and the thaw did not set in quickly. . and nothing was left to indicate the place where he lay. and it was freezing hard. The winter was severe. The white flakes which fell continuously buried him. he went on at random. Being unable to find his way along the road. The blind man was left there all day. and his feeble limbs being incapable of carrying him farther. without uttering a sound. stiffened with the cold. They even made a show of weeping. by degrees. the brother-in-law told the people of his house that he could find no trace of the mendicant." Next day he did not come back.One winter the ground was covered with snow. and when night came on. His relatives made a pretense of inquiring about him and searching for him for about a week. falling into ditches. He'll turn up soon enough tomorrow to eat the soup. owing to its thick coating of ice. on their way to mass. Then he added: "Pooh! best not bother about him! He was cold and got someone to take him away. getting up again. quite stiff and stark. the blind man began to walk.

who were whirling incessantly above the open field. pecked out by the long. as if they had gathered from all corners of the horizon. . which they covered like black patches. already half devoured. His wan eyes had disappeared. and then descending like a shower of black rain at the same spot. The following week these gloomy birds were still there. voracious beaks. mangled. A young fellow went to see what they were doing and discovered the body of the blind man.that his horrible death was a relief to all who had known him. And I can never feel the glad radiance of sunlit days without sadly remembering and pondering over the fate of the beggar who was such an outcast in life. and in which they kept pecking obstinately. and they swooped down with a great cawing into the shining snow. There was a crowd of them up in the air. ever going and coming.

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